More than 1,600 scientists have signed a letter condemning a “morally reprehensible” talk given by a physicist who claimed the subject was “built by men”.
Professor Alessandro Strumia gave a workshop at the European Nuclear Research Centre (Cern) last month, telling a mostly female audience that women were less capable of working in physics.
Strumia has since been suspended from the organisation for the presentation entitled “The Theory Gender Talk”.
In the letter, academics from around the world said Strumia’s case was “fundamentally unsound”.
“It is clear to all of us that Strumia is not an expert on these topics and is misusing his physics credentials to put himself forward as one. Furthermore, those among us who are familiar with the relevant literature know that Strumia’s conclusions are in stark disagreement with those of experts,” the letter said.
Strumia’s conclusions are in stark disagreement with those of experts
They added that his arguments were “rooted in a circumscribed, biased reading of the data available, to the point of promoting a perspective that is biased against women”.
They also debunk his conclusions in a series of points listed on particlesforjustice.org. Other academics have been invited to sign the letter.
“Belittling the ability and legitimacy of scientists of colour and white women scientists using such flimsy pretexts is disgraceful, and it reveals a deep contempt for more than half of humanity that clearly comes from some source other than scientific logic,” the letter read.
Strumia told the BBC that the signatories “mostly come from those countries more affected by political correctness” and that “this is what leads to academicians that want (to get) others fired for having ‘morally reprehensible’ ideas”.
The workshop attended by Strumia last month was held to discuss equal opportunities in physics and helping women wanting to work as particle physicists.
However the scientist presented a number of slides which claimed men were being discriminated against due to ideology, adding that a woman had once been hired over him for a job he said he was more qualified for.
In another claim, Strumia cited that Italy provided “free or cheaper university for STEM female students” and that Oxford University “extends exam times for women’s benefit.”
The slides were available on the Cern website but later taken down.
Professor Strumia has denied that he was biased in his use of the information, telling the BBC: “The data about citations and hirings show that women are not discriminated (against) in fundamental physics. We reward merit, irrespective of gender.”
The University of Pisa in Italy, which Strumia is association with, said it is investigating his behaviour.